Steelers Game Rewind: Steelers vs Saints – First Half

By Alex Kozora

Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 13 loss against the New Orleans Saints.

First Half

– Kick return front five from left to right. Antwon Blake/Terence Garvin/Will Allen/Robert Golden/Arthur Moats. Matt Spaeth/Michael Palmer the next two with Cody Wallace and Will Johnson making up the wedge. Josh Harris served as the upback for Markus Wheaton. Harris is the Steelers’ fourth different upback this season.

– Steelers’ first third down. Like the concept. Two high shell, not sure pre-snap if you’re getting man or zone. Motion Antonio Brown and the corner follows, indicating that it’s man. AB wins on an out route while #1 – Markus Wheaton – carries the outside corner vertically. Pass complete for a first down.




– Three Saints’ defenders sucked up because of playaction. Opens up the skinny post to Martavis Bryant for a long gain.



– Took almost six seconds for AB to get open on their attempted flea-flicker. So the execution really wasn’t there.

Ben Roethlisberger had issues mechanically but he also missed open receivers. If he waits a fraction of a second longer, he’d have Brown open on a nine route for an easy six. CB had bit before Ben tried hitting Bryant on the dig.


– Same play and maybe one reason why Ben missed the read. Pocket collapsing and Roethlisberger is upright on his release.


– Punt coverage. Antwon Blake/Ross Ventrone gunners. Line left to right: Michael Palmer – Vince Williams – Terence Garvin – Greg Warren – Will Johnson – Sean Spence – Will Allen – Robert Golden – Brad Wing.

– Love the two gapping from Cameron Heyward. Textbook. Eyes on the runner, mirrors his movement, and sheds at the appropriate time, making the tackle.

– PR team. Brice McCain/Darrius Heyward-Bey the jammers. Others. Dri Archer – Robert Golden – Terence Garvin – Stephon Tuitt – Ross Ventrone – Will Allen – William GayShamarko Thomas.

– Two kick out blocks on Power O, which the Steelers ran on back-to-back plays for 18 and 12 yard pickups. David DeCastro and Johnson doing the dirty work.


– Great run by Le’Veon Bell. Stiff arm of Kenny Vaccarro, trucks Pierre Warren, and finishes this run with about ten yards after contact in all.

– Said this on Twitter. Your quarterback’s pocket should not resemble a mob from The Walking Dead.


As you can imagine, the pass is incomplete and the Steelers are forced to settle for a fied goal.

– Kick coverage from L1 to R1. Shamarko Thomas, William Gay, Ross Ventrone, Terence Garvin, Vince Williams, Shaun Suisham, Sean Spence, Will Johnson, Antwon Blake, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Will Allen.

– Wonderful execution of this overload and Brett Keisel/Jason Worilds on a twist. Keisel just couldn’t finish it.



– Cover Zero + Robber technique from Troy Polamalu (reading the QB’s eyes) means Gay needs to open his gate (his hips). Doesn’t until it’s too late and he’s beat deep. Only the pressure from Cam Heyward that causes an overthrow bails the Steelers’ corners out.




– Steelers use a different punt return unit the rest of the way. Antwon Blake/Darrius Heyward-Bey the jammers on one side, Terence Garvin, Will Johnson, Vince Williams, Arthur Moats, Robert Golden, Sean Spence, Ross Ventrone/Shamarko Thomas.

– Ben with another missed read. Three receivers vs the two defender side, obvious advantage off the bat for the Steelers. Nickel blitz leaves one corner against three. Ben can throw to #1, Heath Miller, down the left sideline, or an open #3, Martavis Bryant, on a skinny post down the seam.



But Ben chooses to throw the swing route to Brown, the only route the corner is playing. Should have been an easy pick six by Patrick Robinson but it’s dropped.


– Antonio Brown’s route running is hard to even show up on the All-22. Subtle but he does it so well and so smoothly. No loss of speed. It’s pretty amazing to watch. And his work ethic has to be infectious to the younger group.

– Sure Cam Thomas gets penetration but on a stretch run, it isn’t effective. All it does is create a gap to run through.



– Shark had a strong game on special teams in his first one back. Sends gunner sprawling into the ground. Well done.


– Roethlisberger missing high to Bell on third down. Front foot not out in front, there’s no weight transfer. Passes have a natural tendency to sail high.


– In the first half, Ramon Foster had trouble giving help to Kelvin Beachum on chips. Not forceful and wouldn’t knock the end over. Got better in the second half though.

– We’ll break down each of the three consecutive long runs the Steelers gave up to the Saints.

  1. Nice concept by the Saints. Crack replace with the WRs blocking down, including a key one on James Harrison, with the left tackle Terron Armstead pulling and cutting Antwon Blake in space.



  1. Simple Lead Strong concept and no one gets off their block.


  1. Double-teams on the nose tackle and LDE. Lawrence Timmons and Sean Spence are initially free and no one fills the lane, the “B” gap. Disappointing.




Ben Watson’s TD. William Gay can’t bite on the inside stem from Jimmy Graham. Has to carry anything vertical to the sideline. He doesn’t and Watson is open for six.


– Will Johnson with a pancake that opened up a long return by Wheaton.


– What Big Ben sees on his interception to Heyward-Bey in the end zone. Two safeties that have him blanketed. Can’t make that throw. He’s rightfully intercepted.


– Brett Keisel had his way with the second year left tackle Armstead. Swims to get off the backside block, makes the tackle when the runners bends it back.



– Sean Spence didn’t have a pretty day but have to give him credit for holding the POA in the hole against fullback Erik Lorig. Absorbs it well.



– Felt like overall, Gay wasn’t comfortable in the slot after playing on the outside since Week Three. Didn’t look clean in his pedal and late opening up his hips. Does it again to allow Kenny Stills a 44 yard gain. Can’t let a guy with 4.32 speed like Stills to get even with you. If he’s even, he’s leaving.


– Right tackle Zach Strief washes Tuitt out of the hole. Vet winning against the rookie.



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